The Preston Front Page

The Novels

Chameleon Books published two Preston Front novels in order to coincide with Series 3 in 1997. Both were by Ed Jones, who is from Manchester and has written original novels called "Come Again" and "Every Mother For Himself".

Liberty, Equality, Virginity ISBN: 0-233-99107-7

Cover of Liberty, Equality, Virginity This is the story of the summer of '89 - the summer a teenage Hodge and Eric reach the greatest landmarks in their lives - joining the TA and losing their virginity. It is the story of how, en route, they encounter a six-foot-tall rocker called Lloydy, a vicious, emotionally damaged corporal called Polson and an intense history student called Simon. It is the story of what happened five years before the TV series, Preston Front, began.
What is the secret of Hodge's extraordinary luck with older women and Eric's dismal failure with any of them? Why is the bookish student hanging out with a chapter of armed Hell's Angels? Why is there a venomous snake in Corporal Polson's jeans? And why does that mysterious girl keep undressing in front of her window?
An irresistable read for fans of the series and newcomers alike, this funny and touching new novel was inspired by the multi-award winning BBC1 comedy, Preston Front, and is based on Tim Firth's original character notes for the series.

This is an original novel, even to the extent that it does not carry a Preston Front prefix in the title. As the blurb quoted above makes clear, it is a prequel to the series, set in the Summer of 1989, some five years before the start of the series and charts a number of key events that would shape the series itself, notably Hodge's brief affair with Jeanetta. The novel also features Eric joining the TA after his father's breakdown, encouraging Lloydy and later Hodge to do the same. Here they join other newcomers to the company, namely Corporal Polson and Spock, here a postgraduate student who only acquires his nickname towards the end of the novel.

Other characters from the series appear, namely Sara Polson, Greg Scarry and Eric's parents. However, others are absent, notably Dawn, Ally, Diesel and Rundle. Of course, this is understandable in some of these cases since the novel is set before they arrive in Roker Bridge. The most important original character is Nichola Wheelan, an abused teenager over whom Eric gets somewhat emotionally confused.

Generally the novel is successful in capturing the spirit of the series, albeit in a somewhat more adult manner. Although apparently based on Tim Firth's original character notes for the series, there are a number of inconsistencies with throwaway references from the series; for instance in the series it was said that Jeanetta and Hodge met when he was working in the Blackpool leisure club that she was a member of, whereas here this is changed to a hotel. They also enjoy a protracted affair, as opposed to the one night stand referred to in the series. In addition, the novel features Eric losing his virginity to Nichola, which although not actually contradicting the series seems to go against the spirit of the series itself which implies that his first time is with Dawn. However, on other occassions the novel is careful to tie into the series; for instance, after liberating the contents of a Roker Bridge pet shop Lloydy is sentenced to community service by a magistrate called Charles who also used to be his old headmaster, something referred to in Lloydy's Housewarming".

Preston Front: Ostriches and Marijuana ISBN: 0-233-99109-3

Cover of Ostriches and Marijuana "Honest Hodge, the gearboxes are dead similar and having that noodle bowl loose on top makes y' concentrate. It's like them Maori women that learn to walk with pots on their heads."

"Eric, Maori women don't have to do emergency stops."

Consisting of previously unseen material, this novel follows the third series of Tim Firth's award-winning comedy drama Preston Front.

OSTRICHES AND MARIJUANA is the hilarious and moving story of Hodge's journey, from the nightmare of his driving test to the realisation of his dream of fatherhood; of Eric's entanglement with Triad gangsters and the collapse of his only love-affair; of Ally's continuing battle to control both her desire for her Commanding Officer and her desire to murder her conniving sergeant Polson; of Lloydy's house-warming that nearly brings the house down; of Spock's hot-wiring history pupil; and the final extraordinary effects on life in Roker Bridge of Diesel's ostrich and Jeanetta's marijuana.

The second book is a straightforward novelisation of Series 3, even to the extent that it is split into seven chapters corresponding to each of the episodes. There are some minor additions - it is mentioned towards the end that Laura is pregnant by Greg, and there is a revelation concerning Hodge's father. Declan is also given the surname Caine, which was not used on screen. One oddity in the book is that Mr Wang's first name is given as Colin, rather than Peter as in the series.

Compiled by Matthew Newton

More on Preston Front at Newton's Laws Of Television 

Copyright MJ Newton 2003. All rights reserved.
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